Kevin Harvick Wins Wonderful Pistachios 400

Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Is Set

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick celebrates in Gatorade Victory Lane

Kevin Harvick won the Wonderful Pistachios 400 in dramatic fashion, holding off a hard-charging Carl Edwards over the final 10 laps. The thrilling race was slowed by a record-tying 15 caution periods, the last of which cost Jeff Gordon the win. Gordon had just taken the lead and was pulling away from Harvick when the caution flew for Paul Menard’s spin on the frontstraight. Harvick’s crew was able to service the #29 faster than Gordon’s crew and got him back in the lead. Edwards was able to pass Gordon on the restart and then run down Harvick, narrowly missing the win.

The Wonderful Pistachios 400 also set the field for The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. With his win, Kevin Harvick secured the points lead along with Kyle Busch at 2012 points. Next up are Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin.

Harvick, who notched his 18th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, and second at Richmond, said: “First, I want to thank our troops for what they do for us. It was a great night for us. I had burned off my rear tires there in the middle of the race. My crew got us back out front.”

Edwards said, “I needed one more lap. Kevin did a really good job of staying on the bottom, and I couldn’t get under him. That was a fun race and I’m ready to make a run for the championship. I feel like we’re ready for the Chase.”

Third-placed Jeff Gordon was more optimistic about the future than being disappointed with losing the race: “I do feel like we have momentum. We struggled tonight. I made a bad call early that cost us a lap. To be able to grab the lead there near the end was great. We’re really excited for The Chase.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had to overcome an early wreck. “We worked on it and worked on it. We could race the leaders on new tires but I thought we had a pretty good car tonight. I wasn’t worried about the early wreck because I figured we had all night to fix it. We worked hard tonight.” With his 16th place finish, Earnhardt secured the 10th position in The Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Brad Keselowski locked down the top “Wild Card” spot for The Chase on the basis of his three earlier wins this season. Following a difficult start to the season, Brad commented, “We just didn’t give up. We focused and eventually got rewarded. You’ve got to out-finish what you have for a car. The Chase is starting and we’ve got the Blue Deuce in it!”

Chesterfield, Virginia’s Denny Hamlin secured the final “Wild Card” spot in The Chase with a hard-fought ninth place tonight. He too was involved in an early wreck. Describing the litany of repairs made by his crew, Hamlin said: “My car is destroyed. It’s amazing what the crew and my team did and they made it possible for us to move back up.”

Kevin Harvick was careful to avoid numerous early race wrecks to win the Wonderful Pistachios 400 under the lights at Richmond International Raceway. There were five caution periods in the first 52 laps as the drivers mixed it up fighting for positions. Kevin Harvick dominated the next 150 laps, during which there were another five cautions, until Carl Edwards moved around him. Harvick took the lead back on lap 314 and held it until Gordon swept past on lap 378.

The 15 cautions in tonight’s race match the record set during the 2003 and 2009 May races. There were 11 lead changes among 7 drivers. Harvick led 5 times for 202 laps, followed by Carl Edwards’ 113 laps led. Twenty cars finished on the lead lap. The time of the race was 3 hours, 20 minutes, 12 seconds, with an average speed of 89.910 mph.

 

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